MarTech Interview with Stefan Lederer, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at Bitmovin

With the ongoing streaming war, how will the OTT market shape up to be as consumer trends and streaming habits evolve? Stefan Lederer, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at Bitmovin has a few thoughts:

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Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Stefan, tell us about Bitmovin and what are some of the main challenges it helps solve in the marketplace?

Thank you…In short, Bitmovin is an Emmy Award-winning company providing solutions for developers in the OTT video market. We enable the largest media companies in the world, as well as new companies in new verticals at the same time, to build leading streaming offers for their customers. This whole market is in a large transition right now, in which our products are enabling us to optimize efficiency, reduce time-to-market and enhance the viewer experience. 

We work tirelessly to optimize workflows and deliver the highest-quality streaming video across all devices. As such, we are a leader in the research and development of video compression and streaming standards – as the bar keeps rising for themedia industry to provide higher qualities to their streaming viewers. We have also played a significant role in the use of massive parallel encoding to enhance encoding speeds. Some of our clients include ClassPass, BBC, fuboTV, Hulu Japan, and Discovery.

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What inspired this platform?

Bitmovin was founded out of our own academic research and efforts for standardization around the MPEG DASH streaming format. We co-created this standard that accounts for more than 50 percent of the US internet traffic today and is used by Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and others. 

Our mission has always been to help the transformation of video consumption towards online streaming using technology and improve the industry’s viewing experience with the most advanced encoding technology developed by our R&D team. 

With the growth of streaming services and streaming videos, digital media companies will need better know-how on stronger content management systems for video infrastructure: what are some thoughts that come to mind? 

We all want to streamline workflow, and content is at the heart of what our clients are delivering. For our client ClassPass, for example, they wanted to deliver an exceptional experience across multiple devices – this, of course, is how their users digest their content. It’s not just on a phone, tablet, computer or TV anymore. With the multi-device functionality of our Bitmovin Player, they were able to create a more efficient development process for their entire team. I cannot underscore enough that with so many choices for streaming, consumers won’t stand for a hiccup in their services across any device. It makes an easy choice in their mind.

What are some of the top challenges you see facing streaming media companies today?

The top challenges change constantly in our industry, as consumer viewing preferences evolve and shift. Right now, streaming services face a major challenge in providing better and better quality, i.e. enabling 4K or HDR to their users. Every new show gets produced using these quality standards, so the user wants to experience it. Another challenge lies in cataloging and moving old content, namely the need to upscale shows and films for modern viewing technology. Lots of legacy content has continued interest from its viewers – Seinfeld on Netflix, for example – but in some cases media companies are working with content that is standard definition or even source material from an analog VHS cassette. Through new technology like machine learning, Bitmovin can help improve the quality of old content and upscale HD to 4K. 

Every year our company conducts a developer survey to look at how the industry is progressing and get a beat on the issues facing our front-line clients, the developers. For example, this year’s report found that a majority of developers at media companies are using a commercial encoder, up 4% from last year. This is likely due to the need for higher levels of support, usability, and control when working with a variety of complex video and audio codecs across the industry, as codec standards are constantly evolving in the streaming industry. The full report can be found here.

How can media companies and streaming services use better tech capabilities to streamline their own processes and improve the end user experience?

We all know that optimizing internal operations will help control costs, mitigate risk, and manage workflow complexity. Our tech can be used as individual components or leveraged as a suite of products for maximum benefit. For example, the Bitmovin Encoding product has been created with segmented processing in mind, which allows for massive parallel processing to accelerate encoding speeds across all available cloud infrastructure while maintaining the highest quality in the market and minimizing bitrate. This is just one way that media companies can streamline their own processes while improving the end user experience.

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Tell us how see the streaming media market evolve today and what are some predictions you have for the near-future? 

Broadly speaking, it’s no secret that there is a “streaming war” going on, as media companies compete for consumer business. There are so many options now, and OTT doesn’t price themselves to add value over a traditional cable subscription. In the short-term, partnerships amongst media giants will continue to be a viable solution, but as an industry, those that balance cost and quality with innovation will become the long-term winners.

I can also see net neutrality becoming a prominent topic again in both the industry and for consumers in general.  At Bitmovin, we feel that keeping the internet open allows for an equal playing field of innovation, and the state of the streaming industry will be dependent on how net neutrality rules are enforced. It will be interesting to see how the FCC approaches the issue in 2022. 

Some last thoughts before we wrap up?

It’s an exciting time for media companies and the viewers who consume their content. The broadcasting industry has evolved immensely since its inception in the early 1900’s. We are happy to be along for the journey and would be glad to speak to any media company that is looking to deliver an exceptional viewing experience, in less time, while minimizing costs. An outstanding streaming experience on all devices are what today’s consumers crave.

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Bitmovin has been a first mover in almost every significant development in online video, from building and deploying the world’s first (and fastest) commercial adaptive streaming (MPEG-DASH/HLS) HTML5 Player, to being the first to achieve 100x realtime encoding speeds in the cloud.

Stefan Lederer is the CEO and Co-Founder at Bitmovin

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